Friday, February 3, 2017

A shot in the dark

Red-eye birding.
3.00 am. The alarm goads me awake, and I shuffle up to the window to do an aerial survey of the frigid world outside. A thick duvet of mist is trying to envelop the earth in a warm embrace, but a cruel breeze lances in through the chink I have dared to open.
Layers of clothes are donned for the pre-dawn swoop, and we tiptoe out of the hotel, whose entire staff has vanished into Slumberland.
We press on into the deep recesses of a tea garden, but ironically, there is no way to get a much-desired cup of tea.
A sharp double-whistle from Debo gets an identical response from the depths of a bamboo ravine. We slither down a slope, made even more challenging by a carpet of dried bamboo leaves.
A tiny black blob weaves through the thick undergrowth, choosing the inkiest corners of the dark habitat. The telephoto lens rocks back and forth in agony, unable to lock on. Just as the blob prepares to leave the frame for eternity, the focus locks for a moment, capturing this Stygian sensation....
Blue-naped Pitta, Kaziranga, January 23, 2017.